Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Storm Farms Summer Produce

Almost two years ago I wrote about an organic CSA farm I toured in Balch Springs, TX. While touring I snapped a few photos and turned a couple of them into photographic art. One of the images I developed was a produce still life and I have contemplated adding more to form a series of produce images. I found an opportunity to do so last night.

A local operation, Storm Farm, has expanded its summer produce offerings and I stopped in to see what was in season last evening. Their sign has been advertising tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and beans. They did indeed have these as well as yellow squash. In addition to green beans, they also had wax beans. I had not seen those in quite some time. I picked up a box of the wax beans as well as some tomatoes, two yellow squash and a cucumber. Upon bringing my produce home, I set up a still life arrangement from them. I must admit that not all of the wax beans made it into the arrangement, they were too easy to snack on. I used one of the photos that I took to let people know Storms was open in a facebook post, in case anyone needed to grab some fresh produce for dinner and I used another photo to create the new produce photographic art piece seen above.

Storm Farms is better known as a U-pick strawberry farm from late March to late May or early June. They are trying to expand their seasonal offerings. Their summer produce is not U-pick. The experience is more like a small farmer's market or roadside stand (which it is). For fresh, locally grown produce stop by. As the harvest warrants, they plan to be open Tuesday evenings and Saturday and Sunday. See their facebook page for the most up to date time and day info. Hopefully we will see pumpkins in the fall and a Christmas tree market in December too (no, the trees won't be grown on the property).

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Polished Ammonite Fossil Pendant Necklaces

I don't think it is necessary to be a math, science or paleontology geek to enjoy these beautiful ammonite fossil pendant necklaces. However to paraphrase my new listing, if you are, you will find different aspects of them to appreciate in addition to their beauty.

Ammonites are fossil relatives of living nautiluses although they are actually more closely related to today's octopus, squid and cuttlefish. These pendants are made by cutting ammonite fossils in half, polishing the cut surface and mounting them. I have so much fun looking at all of the
different ways they became fossilized when I come across a selection at a trade show. Different minerals produce differently colored areas. The septa, the walls dividing the different chambers in the shells, generally mineralize differently than the chambers so that the lovely patterns they create are visible. The chambers can be varied colors in the same specimen, sometimes they even sport crystals. The backs of some of these pendants show some opalization and flash different colors when light shines off them from various angles.

You will find these as well as other items for the math or science geek in my EclecticSkeptic Etsy shop. If you have a special request, let me know and I will see if I can fill it for you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Design This - Black and White Necklace

This custom project was not initiated by a customer nor was it a design for myself, rather it was an appreciation gift for a city staff member who made the right connections and accomplished getting last line designation with the post office for our city. That might sound like pretty dry stuff but since this has been a work in progress on and off for a really, really long time and is very important to a city's identity, I wanted to recognize this accomplishment with more than a pat on the back.

I thanked the staff member and told her that I wanted to create a special piece of jewelry for her as a token of my appreciation. I suggested a necklace and asked what colors or materials she liked. She told me she really liked a black and white color scheme but did not have any specific materials in mind. I looked through my beads and thought my snowflake obsidian teardrops might make a good focal point for
such a necklace. I brought those and a couple of other beads to show the employee. She liked the snowflake obsidian and picked out a teardrop. We decided on a beaded necklace rather than chain with pendant. Then I needed to know how long the necklace should be. I learned long ago that most people can not tell me a measurement but will say something like, "I want it to come to about here." The problem with that response is that not all people are the same shape so the length needed to get to there varies. To address this, I made a measurement chain for people to clasp at different intervals until it lands in the spot they want their necklace to go to. Armed with answers to my questions I set off to design the necklace.

I pulled out all of my beads that were black, black and white, off white to white and clear that I thought would play off the central snowflake obsidian teardrop. After trying several design ideas I settled on the beads shown in the second photo. I chose some additional shapes of snowflake obsidian, crackled quartz, quartz and shell as well as spinel and other black gemstone beads. I decided to use stainless steel findings to finish off the beaded necklace. While I had a specific length necklace to aim for, it can be tricky to get to that exact length with the different sizes of beads and findings used. Luckily everything came together to give the desired length. It was nice to be able to reward a special effort with an item designed to the recipient's specifications. While not a total surprise, I felt better knowing beforehand what style, color and length the wearer would be most interested in.

If you have a favorite color scheme or material choice, I would love to see if I can fulfill your request. Contact me at the email listed in my custom tab of this blog.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dragonflies vs. Damselflies

A friend of mine recently commented on seeing a skinnier dragonfly than she is used to seeing. I asked if it was a dragonfly or a damselfly. When she was not sure, I realized a post about their similarities and differences was in order. While going through my photos for this post, I also realized I have some images of damselflies that I should create some photographic art from, stay tuned on that thought. Dragonflies and damselflies both come in a variety of colors. I have seen much more variety in dragonflies however. Also, I have only ever seen one size of damselfly but many sizes of dragonflies. The first photo shows a damselfly next to a wasp to get an idea of their size.

As you can see from the photos, dragonflies have much bulkier bodies. (Note: The dragonfly I am using for comparison is a blue dasher and I consider them a mid sized dragonfly. Both insects are resting on similar stalks of dry grass.) And while both insects have large eyes, dragonflies' eyes take up most of their head and do not stand proud or separate as damselflies' eyes do. The resting position of their wings is also different. A dragonfly's wings are held separately at rest and are positioned like airplane wings. However a damselfly holds its four wings together and over its body at rest instead of to the side. Damselfly wings are more slender than dragonfly wings and uniform in shape, unlike dragonfly wings.

Both of these flying insects prey on smaller flying insects such as flies and mosquitoes. In fact Houston is trying to increase their populations to naturally combat mosquitoes and the diseases they spread. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)